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Book III deals with the signs that we use to communicate ideas to ourselves and to others, words.Book III follows roughly the same form as Book II, explaining how the different kinds of ideas can be communicated as different kinds of words.Nevertheless, Locke’s treatment of personal identity is one of the most discussed and debated aspects of his corpus.
His main argument in this Book is to argue against the idea that there is some knowledge that arises prior to experience, that is, the idea that some of our ideas or knowledge are innate.
Locke uses several arguments against the innateness hypothesis but his main argument is that for an idea to be innate it would have to be universally shared and present in children and idiots.
He categorizes ideas into simple and complex ideas.
Simple ideas are generated directly by experience and refer to simple objects of sensation.
This Study Guide consists of approximately 26 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.
John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding is a major work in the history of philosophy and a founding text in the empiricist approach to philosophical investigation.
Locke also gives a unique empiricist proof of the existence for God and a strong attack on the possibility of faith and revelation.
Finally Locke concludes by laying out a program for the future development of science along Lockean, empiricist lines.
Many attempt to follow his trail, including David Hume and many modern philosophers.
Though this work is idiosyncratic, it is hard to overemphasize its influence on philosophy and the development of thought over the last several hundred years.